Thursday, July 7, 2011

Avoid the Summer Slide

"No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers' dirty looks!"

Remember this rhyme from your youth? Admit it - everyone looks forward to summer vacation and a well deserved break from homework, tests, and reports. It's only natural. But educators are expressing growing concern about a phenomenon known as "Summer Slide" or "Brain Drain." Time Magazine published an article last year titled The Case Against Summer Vacation. Students are at risk of losing reading and math skills during their extended school break, and teachers spend valuable classroom time bringing everyone up to speed again when school returns in the fall.

We're not advocating that you spend your summer drilling multiplication tables with your kids every free moment - that's no fun for either them or you. But if you'd like to do some fun, educational activities with your children to keep their skills sharp, we have many resources to help you.
  • First and foremost, if you haven't already - enroll your children in the summer reading club. (You can sign up, too - we have an adult program as well.) Registration ends July 16. Numerous studies show that children who participate in summer reading return to school in the fall with larger vocabularies and increased reading comprehension skills. Parents can make suggestions regarding their kids' book selections, but remember that the first rule of summer reading is to make it fun! Your children will have years of "required reading" in school. In the summer, let them (with your supervision) pick the books they find appealing. Don't get too hung up on reading level - just give them the time and quiet space to read, plus access to books they enjoy. All of the educational benefits of reading will follow naturally. (We promise!) Jen Robinson, a well-known children's book blogger and member of the Santa Clara City Library Foundation and Friends, has some great tips on encouraging summer reading.
  • Did your child's teacher suggest that he or she get extra practice over the summer on a particular subject? Online resources like Brainfuse and Learning Express have tests representing a variety of grade levels and subjects. For example, Learning Express features an online test covering California fourth grade math standards. These tools can be accessed free with your SCCL library card from any computer with an internet connection.
  • Incorporate math, writing, and reading in everyday household tasks. Make cookies with your kids, and have them read the recipe and measure the ingredients. Let your kids read the weekly supermarket ad, write a grocery list, and calculate prices. Have an overflowing change jar at home? Have the kids count it for you. The website Mixing in Math has many suggestions to make math accessible and fun for your family.
  • was recently named a "Great Site for Kids" by the American Library Association, and has many free printable worksheets for youth in preschool through high school.
  • The library just received books titled The Original Summer Bridge Activities that contain reproducible activity sheets. You can check the books out, but please photocopy the pages you wish to use. Writing in the books ruins them for other library patrons.
Want more ideas? Staff at the youth services desk are happy to show you even more resources to make your child's transition back to school as seamless as possible. Just ask!

posted by SPB